“I have seven children to take care of, and I can’t do that on $8.05 an hour,” said Marianne Raney, who has been working at the restaurant for three years. Until recently, she’d been clocking close to 35 hours a week, but then management hired new employees and cut her hours. She now gets scheduled for no more than 23 hours a week, making it even harder to get by.
Employees at the McDonald's (3306 S. University Dr.) were joined by representatives from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida, which is currently leading the “Fight for $15” campaign. A growing number of cities around the country — including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle — have already approved a $15 minimum wage, but the movement has struggled to gain traction in Florida. Last year, state Senator Dwight Bullard introduced a bill to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15, but it died in committee.
Some companies have independently pledged to begin paying their employees more. This week, Starbucks and Chase announced they would phase in a $15 minimum wage for all employees.
For McDonald's workers, the $15 minimum wage seems unlikely for now. But workers at the Miramar location would at least like the kitchen's air conditioner fixed.
Laurie Rollins, who has been working the grill for six years, says she can’t remember a time when it worked properly. “One week it’s working, the next week it’s broken,” she said. “It feels like a sweatshop in there — at least 100 degrees.”
To make matters worse, employees are banned from taking breaks in the dining area, which has working air conditioning. (Ironically, customers have complained online that the restaurant is too cold.) Instead, they’re forced to stay in the hot kitchen.
“It’s my 30 minutes — that’s my time,” Rollins said. “I don’t think they should be able to do that.”
The manager on duty declined to explain the reasoning behind this policy.
A small crowd formed by the entrance to the McDonald’s while protestors stood in front of the counter with signs and bullhorns. Some customers went ahead and ordered breakfast, while others stopped to document the event on Snapchat. “I wanna get $15 an hour when I work in this bitch!” one teenager shouted in support.
The protest lasted about half an hour. Not long after the group left, several Miramar police cars rolled up to the parking lot. No arrests were made, but protestors were told that they’d be trespassing if they re-entered the store.
“You have the right to protest on public land, and I will defend your right to do that,” Officer Steven McGillicuddy explained. “But we got a call that you were inside the store, blocking sales.”